Viva Palestina convoy runs out of gas

Viva Palestina convoy runs out of gas

June 8, 2012 | Ahron Shapiro

A Gaza-bound convoy organised by rabble-rousing British MP George Galloway’s pro-Hamas British group Viva Palestina failed to reach its destination last month after being blocked by Egyptian authorities from entering the Sinai.

UNESCO vote on Palestine triggers UN backlash

Important new observations from UN’s Syria observer mission

June 8, 2012 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

They have now observed that they are being ignored — at least when theyaren’t being shot at:

According to UN officials, UN vehicles are shot at almost every day in Syria.

Mr Ban [Ki-moon] told the 15-nation council that UN observers had seen Syrian military convoys approaching villages and tried to stop tank assaults against populated areas, but had been “ignored”.

… Ban said shots were fired at the UN convoy which tried to get into the village of Al-Kubeir.

Fortunately, the observers were able to relay this information to the Secretary-General in time for him to take some incredibly tough action…

Melbourne protest against Israel Independence function provokes backlash

Melbourne protest against Israel Independence function provokes backlash

June 8, 2012 | Sharyn Mittelman

On Tuesday night a belated Israel independence celebration was held at the Windsor Hotel. Students for Palestine decided to target the event, and staged a protest outside the hotel. The protest has been described as ‘ugly’, with protestors burning an effigy of the Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu for supporting ‘apartheid’ and calls for the destruction of Israel as the protestors chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

Despite the noise created by the protest, the celebration continued inside the Windsor with around 300 guests – including leaders in the Jewish community, Premier Baillieu, Leader of the opposition Daniel Andrews, Israeli Ambassador to Australia Yuval Rotem and other diplomats.  In addition, approximately 50 Liberal Party, ALP and Nations Members of Parliament were escorted by the police to the Windsor Hotel through the noisy throng of protestors to attend the event. The police are to be commended for their professionalism and effective crowd control.

The next day speeches were made in the Victorian Parliament affirming support for the State of Israel and praising the police response to the protest.

Oil prices worsen Iran’s Sanctions woes

Oil prices worsen Iran’s Sanctions woes

June 8, 2012 | Andrea Nadel

The impact of international sanctions on Iran’s ability to do business with its neighbours as it pursues its controversial nuclear program is an issue that AIJAC has followed closely.

What is clear now is that the Iranian economy is in a state of sharp decline as sanctions cripple Iran’s ability to do business with its neighbours.

This decline is today being exacerbated by the fact that oil prices are falling worldwide, and are expected to continue to do so.

Moreover, there is new evidence these dynamics, combined with governmental mismanagement are combining to significantly affect the lifestyle of the average Iranian – especially in terms of prices for basic food staples.

The ABC and UNRWA

The ABC and UNRWA

June 8, 2012 | Allon Lee

ABC radio’s “World Today” reported on the growing recognition that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) may actually be perpetuating the ongoing Palestinian refugee issue (see AIJAC’s update from June 6 2012 for more on the issue).

Unfortunately, a serious issue suffered from the not-so-subtle insinuation that the enterprise is essentially a right-wing plot to deprive aid to Palestinians rather than a question of who should rightfully be deemed a Palestinian refugee and how it might just be hampering solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Does Iran have a right to enrich uranium? / The Islamicisation of Turkey

Does Iran have a right to enrich uranium? / The Islamicisation of Turkey

June 8, 2012

This Update leads with two important pieces discussing the claims and counter-claims being made as part of the Iranian nuclear talks.

First up, Iran scholar and recent visitor to Australia Emanuele Ottolenghi offers a good de-bunking of the constant Iranian refrain that their right to peacefully develop nuclear energy is being denied them. Ottolenghi makes it clear that the key point to understand is that Iran, as a Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty signatory, has this right only as long as it meets its NPT obligations – but the International Atomic Energy Agency has been very clear that Iran is not doing so.

UNRWA and Refugees/ More Glorifying of Terrorism

UNRWA and Refugees/ More Glorifying of Terrorism

June 7, 2012

There has been considerable comment of late, both in Australia and the UN, about the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in the wake of a legislative proposal being discussed in Washington, and a recent grant of increased aid provided to UNRWA in Canberra. This Update provides some background on the controversy over UNRWA, and the idea behind the UNRWA-related legislative amendment which passed out of a Committee in the US Senate last week.

First up is a backgrounder on the American UNRWA proposal, sponsored by Senator Mark Kirk, written by American scholars Alexander Joffe and Asaf Romirowsky (Mr. Romirowsky is currently visiting Australia to speak at the annual Limmud Oz conference of Jewish educators.) They make it clear that the intent of the Kirk legislation is not to cut off Palestinians from needed aid, but to provide some clarity about the state of UNRWA’s clients, the vast majority of whom are not refugees by the standards applied to every other refugee population in the world.

Media Week - UNhelpful on refugees; Lest we forget; The sounds of silence on Syria

Media Week – UNhelpful on refugees; Lest we forget; The sounds of silence on Syria

June 7, 2012 | Allon Lee

In the Australian (2/6), Greg Sheridan questioned Australia’s ongoing support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that is ostensibly “the lead UN agency for helping Palestinians” but is actually a major prop for perpetuating the Palestinian refugee issue.

Israeli musicians transcend political divides to connect with Middle Eastern fans

Israeli musicians transcend political divides to connect with Middle Eastern fans

June 7, 2012 | Andrea Nadel

Boycotting and isolating Israel culturally, economically, and politically has long been one of the goals of many of Israel’s neighbours in the Middle East, and more recently, of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. It is revealing, then, that growing numbers of people throughout the Middle East are themselves disobeying the call of the anti-normalisation and BDS movements by listening to music by Israeli artists.

La Trobe lecturer's worrying idea of "modern values"

La Trobe lecturer’s worrying idea of “modern values”

June 7, 2012 | Daniel Meyerowitz-Katz

La Trobe University lecturer Luca Anceschi had a rather nonsensical piece today on academic opinion website The Conversation, concerning the Islamist parties in the Arab world. From the very beginning, Anceschi makes some basic factual errors…

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